Helen Selsdon has served as the archivist for the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) since 2002. She manages the Helen Keller Archive, the Talking Book Archive, the AFB Archive, and the M. C. Migel Rare Book collection. She serves as a grant writer and spokesperson for AFB’s historical collections.

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Making Helen Keller's Legacy Even More Accessible

October 10, 2019
Helen Selsdon speaking at the event celebrating AFB's archival collections moving to APH museum
Helen Selsdon, AFB archivist, speaking at the announcement event
Yesterday, the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) was proud to announce that we will be partnering with the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) to expand public access to the Helen Keller Archival Collection and the archives of AFB. AFB is loaning its historic collections to the APH Museum, making Louisville, Kentucky, an important center for the study of the history of blindness and disabilities in the United States. Thanks to generous support from the National Endowment for the…
Author Helen Selsdon
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Fabulous New Objects in the Helen Keller Archive

August 13, 2019
Copper vase inlaid with silver carp and cherry blossoms, gift from the City of Hiroshima. November 13, 1947
Copper vase inlaid with silver carp and cherry blossoms, gift from the City of Hiroshima. November 13, 1947
Over 180 totally gorgeous items can be seen for the very first time! Captured in over 1,200 fully accessible digital images, these 2D and 3D items in the Helen Keller Archive provide an alternative lens with which to view Helen Keller’s extraordinary life. Beautiful artifacts, oversize documents, and photograph albums are now there for all to see. The items include treasures like... Keller’s 1904 Bachelor of Arts Degree Certificate from Radcliffe College—Keller was the first deafblind…

Tactile Treasures in the Helen Keller Archive

July 9, 2019
P. O. Box 455 Talladega, Ala. April 28, 1954  Dear Miss Keller,  We have heard that you are coming to Alabama in May, and we wish to invite you to visit our school while you are in this state. We have heard of the work you are doing and would like to meet you and have you talk to us, if only for a few minutes.  Very truly yours, Cora Dell Booker. Eighth Grade School for Negro Blind
Invitation written in braille by 8th grader Cora Dell Booker inviting Keller to speak at her school, 1954
Circa 1821-1825, Louis Braille mastered the now-famous braille-dot code enabling blind and visually impaired individuals to read and enjoy the same wealth of knowledge as their sighted peers. As we’ve discovered during the Helen Keller Archive digitization project, humans always seem to find original ways to create methods with which to communicate. Fabulous examples of embossed items are scattered throughout the collection. Check these out: Letter written to Keller by Lucille Nurre in 1967…

Helen Keller on Independence Day, 1942

July 4, 2019
CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER  SUNDAY, APRIL 19, 1942  MISS HELEN KELLER, whose brave fight to overcome the handicaps of the blind, deaf and dumb has become an American saga, examines a bust of herself by the world-famous sculptor, Jo Davidson. The photograph was taken in Davidson’s studio near Philadelphia.
Helen Keller examines a bust of herself by the world-famous sculptor, Jo Davidson. The photograph was taken in Davidson’s studio near Philadelphia.
During the 1940s, Helen Keller corresponded from her home in Westport, Connecticut with her good friend Clare Heineman in Chicago. One letter, written by Keller on Independence Day 1942 is particularly wonderful and classically Helen Keller – sweeping in its subject matter and passionate in its descriptions of how she physically experienced the world around her. The letter begins with gratitude for a 62nd birthday gift from Heineman. She writes that she will use the gift to purchase and plant…

The Helen Keller Archive: 176,000 Digital Images and Counting!

June 25, 2019
Cake covered in flowers and a quotation celebrating Helen Keller's birthday
Birthday cake inscribed with "Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much." ~Helen Keller
Helen Keller was born 139 years ago today! Keller worked for AFB for 44 years. Within that time, and after her death in 1968, AFB amassed an enormous trove of materials by and about her. This extraordinary collection is a goldmine of social, political, and cultural history. It also presents a unique opportunity to teach and learn about Keller’s life, the times in which she lived, the history of disabilities, and the importance of universal accessibility. As a result of generous funding from…

Helen Keller and Disability History: Taking It to the Classroom

June 19, 2019
Photograph of students playing and learning in a kindergarten class at a school for students who are blind, Australia. 1948
Photograph of students playing and learning in a kindergarten class at a school for students who are blind, Australia. 1948
AFB’s mission to bring Helen Keller’s inspiring legacy to a global audience took a massive step forward with the Helen Keller Archive digitization project. Begun in 2015, over 176,000 digital images are now available at one’s fingertips. One of the project’s goals is to make the digital archive a stellar educational tool. Last summer, at a party celebrating the launch of the archive, our archivist introduced the digital archive to visually impaired 5th graders at the New York Institute for…
Author Helen Selsdon
Blog Topics Helen Keller

Giving Thanks that Helen Keller Remains in the Texas School Curriculum

November 20, 2018
Photo: Helen Keller seated in an armchair next to Winifred Corbally (right). Keller's young grandniece Margot Keller and another child stand in front. Texas, 1961. Today we give thanks for all the wonderful things in our lives, and on this particular Thanksgiving, the American Foundation for the Blind has a special word of gratitude to the Texas Board of Education. On Friday, November 16, the board voted to keep Helen Keller (1880-1968) in the school curriculum. This decision has ensured…

The Disasters of War: Helen Keller's Work On Behalf of Blinded Veterans

November 8, 2018
Helen Keller was a witness to the disasters of war—more specifically, soldiers blinded in the First World War, the Second World War and the Korean War. In-depth information on Keller's involvement with blinded veterans, and her work to improve the economic, social and psychological lives of returning veterans are all documented in the Helen Keller Archive. (Helen Keller, Polly Thomson and a veteran lying in bed, possibly at a hospital in Pennsylvania.) (Helen Keller with wounded veterans at…
Author Helen Selsdon
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Helen Keller's Life and Impact

September 20, 2018
On September 14, a national conversation began when the Texas School Board recommended the removal of Helen Keller from its required Grade 3 social studies curriculum. We realized this was an important moment to share Helen Keller’s extraordinary life story, and the many lessons she left us: perseverance, service, determination, compassion, inclusion, and the ability to change the world. Helen Keller (1880-1968) worked for the American Foundation for the Blind for 44 years, and today, we…

Thoughts on Independence Day by Helen Keller

July 3, 2018
Happy Fourth of July! Helen Keller fought her entire life for social and economic equality for all. During the 1930s she used the platform of the popular Home Magazine to express her ideas and encourage self-reliance, education, and hope, particularly among women. On the occasion of the Fourth of July, 1934, she encouraged readers to reflect on democracy and the work of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt who sought to lift the country out of its economic woes. "Independence Day" by Helen…
Author Helen Selsdon
Blog Topics Helen Keller, Holidays